Spin. Flight. Bounce or rather, the lack of it. Guile. Deception. Magic. And the ability to bounce back. – Each of these things were on display as Poonam Yadav ran riot to spin Australia into submission in the first game of the 2020 edition of Women’s T20 World Cup. She was absolutely magnificent as she bamboozled the Aussie batting line-up and derailed their chase. She was all over the Aussies.
It was nearly three months ago that Poonam Yadav last took field in an international game. It was in the Caribbean where he led India’s spin attack and took four wickets in as many games in a series that India won 5-0. But she was out for three months due to a hand injury and missed the entire T20I tri-series in the lead-up to the World Cup.
The only game that she got under her belt was the warm-up game against West Indies where she picked up 3/20 and showed that she’s back in the groove. If there was any doubt about that, she proved it on the big night and her performance came when India needed it the most.
India looked totally out of the contest. Australia were cruising at 67/2 (in their chase of 133) in Poonam’s first over (10th of the innings). Alyssa Healy was going great guns and had just brought up her half-century as well. That’s when the game turned. Healy who was doing all the scoring till then was dismissed by Poonam as she was foxed by the flight and ended up offering a return catch to the India leggie who accepted it gleefully. That was the start of Australia’s mini-collapse which completely derailed the innings.
She picked up successive wickets in the next over as she removed two big threats from the Aussie batting line-up. Both Rachel Haynes and Ellyse Perry failed to read the googly and were outdone by Poonam’s guile and deception. She was denied a hat-trick as Taniya Bhatia who was excellent throughout but dropped a tough chance on the hat-trick ball. But in the next over, Jess Jonassen faced the wrath of the wrong’un as well as she under-edged her attempted sweep to Bhatia behind the stumps. At that stage, Yadav’s figures read, three overs, 15 runs, four wickets. And she was all over the Aussies.
The leggie’s excellent temperament was on display as she kept coming back after getting hit. Healy hit her for a six, she was out next ball. Gardener struck her for a boundary in her second over, but in the same over, she picked back to back wickets and almost got a hat-trick and helped India claw their way back in the game.
She got the ball to turn both ways and used her googly as a lethal weapon. There was some nice dip on the ball and the lack of bounce (largely due to her short stature) aided her as well. The Aussies simply couldn’t get her away. There were just two boundaries hit off her. She bowled 14 dot balls in her spell and almost threaten to take a wicket even in her last over which was a crucial one (18th of the innings). The 28-year-old leg-spinner was absolutely fabulous and she’s got India off to a stupendous start.
Everyone was making charts and lists of players to watch out for in this T20 World Cup but rarely did anyone have Poonam in the top tier list of players. But now they will. She has shown the world (yet again, for the umpteenth time), that she’s a world-class leg-spinner and no one can take her lightly. Her stats prove that as well. No bowler has taken more T20I wickets than the Agra-born girl since her debut – 89 wickets from 63 games at an average of 14.02, a strike-rate of 14.96 and an economy of 5.62.
Nobody has taken more wickets than #PoonamYadav in Women's T20Is since her debut.
TOP 5 WICKET-TAKERS in WT20Is since April 5, 2013:
— Prasenjit Dey 📰 (@CricPrasen) February 21, 2020
As much as we talk about the Smriti Mandhanas, the Harampreet Kaurs, the Shafali Vermas and the others, it’s time to talk about Poonam Yadav as well. She’s a superstar and she showed that in her spell. It’s no secret that the 28-year-old will be absolutely critical to India’s chances in this T20 World Cup.
She is a match-winner for India and has delivered almost every time she’s had the ball in hand. This game was no different. Coming back from injury is not easy but she took it like fish takes to water. She made it look all too easy as she bamboozled and spun a web around the Aussies.
Four overs. 19 runs. 14 dot balls. Four wickets. That was Poonam’s spell against the defending champions and favourites for this tournament as well. She’s made a statement already. Watch out for her. She might have more in the tank.